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APRIL 2011 


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Food Plots 101: (jet Started 

by David Hart 

As one (imiiK disfovers. llic hcncrils arc 
more lliaii liiiiilin" relaled. 

.lames lliver Sturj^eoii 
l)\ ( llarke C. Jones 
Heel'builders on llie .lames aim to 
accommodate a might} lisii. 

What is the Red Knot Telling Us? 

In Glenda C. Booth 

Virginia's coast |)lavs a enieial role in the 
migratorv snccess ol'lhis heaulilnl sandjiiper. 

'\\i\\ turtle Looking for a 
iJig" (]haiii])ion 

by Crisliiia Satilicslexaii 

^oii can |)ia\ a pari in hel|)ing\ irginia 

tiirdes mecl toda\"s cliallenijes. 

(Corporate Habitat Program 

Reaches 10-Year Milestone 

by Carol A. Hciser 

Businesses in\ irginia take steps to make 
llieir properties w ildlile IriendU. 

VU Rod Chrotiicles 

I )y King Montgomery 

i'l'odncer ( liii'tis i'leming sencs np moi'c 
than your t\|)icai lishingsJKnx. 


28 Seasonal Almanac • 30 ihniling Essay • 31 ()n the Leash 
32 Photo Tips • 33 Oil the Water • 34 Dining hi 


FAPcutixe Director 

Over the years, our Department has been fortunate enough to 
acquire more than 20 1 ,000 acres of land across the com- 
monwealth, designated as wildlife management areas (WMAs). 
These properties are managed specifically for wildlife, and we appre- 
ciate the sportsmen and sportswomen and partner organizations 
whose support has made that possible. While tradidonally those 
acres were acquired and operated expressly for such game species as 
deer, bear, turkeys, and waterfowl, we recognize and appreciate their 
value to nongame species and to the people who wish to recreate and 
pursue wildlife in a more passive manner — such as through hiking, 
photography, fishing, and birding. 

As we look down the road and plan for the future, we are devel- 
oping a statewide management plan for these WMAs based upon 
input received from constituents during a series of public meetings 
held in March. We asked supporters to tell us how they use and ben- 
efit fi-om the time they spend on our publicly-managed lands. 

This survey is timely because we know from recent headlines 
that the population in Virginia has just reached a new milestone. 
Latest census data (20 1 0) reveal that we have crossed the 8 ,00 1 ,000 
mark. That number represents a significant 1 3% increase over the 
previous decade-mark census of 2000, in a region experiencing the 
greatest rate of growth nationally. The information is important in 
guiding public policy as it relates to wildlife management, and in the 
face of such human growth, it underscores the critical role that pub- 
lic lands play today. 

And while some folks question the value of public lands, I be- 
lieve their importance will only increase in the fiature! Consider that 
so many animals — including those whose populations are most at 
risk — inhabit or visit these WMAs and other public holdings like 
state or national forests and parks. It is something that eludes our at- 
tempts to assign a value in dollars and cents, but we have much to 
celebrate and be thankRil for. 

This year, Virginians also celebrate the 75th anniversary of 
their state parks. Visitors are not surprised that our parks have been 
consistendy recognized as the nations best. So I encourage you to 
get out and discover a new park or a new wildlife management area 
this spring. Join the growing cadre of Virginians who deeply appre- 
ciate and defend the need for places of refiige that not only support 
native wildlife, but offer sustenance and renewal to the human spirit. 


To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; To 
provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights 
of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia: To promote safely for persons and property in 
connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach ptograms and materials that foster an awareness of and appre- 
ciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 

von 1 mi: 72 


Bob McDonnell, Governor 


Subsidized this publication 

Douglas W. Domenech 



Bob Duncan 

Executive Director 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Lisa Caruso, Church Road 
Brent Clarice, Fairfax 
Curtis D. Colgate, Virginia Beach 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
P. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Leon Turner, Fincascle 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 


Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Tom Guess, Carol Heiser, J. D. Kleopfer, 

Staff Contributors 

Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published monthly 
by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 
Send all subscription orders and address changes to Virginia 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, Red Oak, Iowa 5 1 59 1 -0477. Ad- 
dress all other communications concerning this publication 
to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 1 1 104, 4^0 10 West Broad 
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mond, Virginia and additional entry offices. 

Copyright 201 1 by the Virginia Department of Game am 
Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries .shall affort 
to all persons an equal access to Department programs an< 
tacilities without regard to race, color, religion, national ori 
gin, disability, sex, or age. It you believe that you have bee 
discriminated against in any program, .activity or hicilitv 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game and Inlam 
Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010 West Broai 
Street.) P O. Box 1 1 104, Richmond, Virginia 232.W-1 10' 

This publication is intended for general informational pun 
poses only and every effort has been made to ensure its acj 
curac"y. Ihe information contained herein does not serve! 
a legal representation offish and wildlife laws or regulationJ 
Tlie Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries doa 
not assume responsibility for any change in dates, regub 
tions, or information that may occur after publication. 


Mixed Sources 


by David Hart 





The deer hunting was pretty 
good on Marvin Fisher's 160- 
acre farm when he bought it ten 
years ago, but the Prospect resident won- 
dered if it could actually be better. 

"We saw some deer during the season, but 
they just didn't seem to stay on our land much 
the rest of the year," he recalls. 

That changed six years ago after Fisher 
started experimenting with food plots. Al- 
though they are planted primarily by deer 
hunters looking for an edge, food plots — an 
area planted with something to attract game — 
don't draw deer just during hunting season. 
Fisher and his family not only saw more deer in 
October, November, and December, they no- 
ticed an overall increase in wildlife in general 
throughout the year. 

"We see a lot more deer all year now, 
which we really like. We see more turkeys and 
other game animals and we also notice a lot 
more other wildlife on our land. I can only as- 
sume that's beaiuse we planted food plots and 
created other wildlife-friendly habitat,' he says. 

You certainly don't need to plant a food 
plot to have a successful deer season, but as 
Fisher learned, they can sure help. Not only has 
he seen more deer in the five acres of food plots 
on his land, he has taken some respectable 
bucks in and around them and his success dur- 
ing spring gobbler season has also gone up. 

Food plots have another, perhaps less ob- 
vious, benefit: They are a great excuse to spend 
time outdoors. Fisher runs a drywall business 
and raises cattle on his farm. Both take a large 
amount of time. He looks forward to those af- 
ternoons when he and his boys can tend their 
plots. Whether planting, spraying, mowing, or 
just walking those fields, it's a great opportuni- 
ty to bond with his children. 

"It's something we do together. They are 
avid hunters, so they take a direct part in plant- 
ing as well as hunting the plots," he says. "It's a 
lot like growing your own vegetables." 



What TO Plant 

Some food plot seeds actually are vegetables, 
but Fisher says there's no better choice than 
white clover. In fact, if he had to choose a single 
plant, hed choose white clover. It's not only 
easy to grow, deer devour it virtually all year. 
Turkeys also love it; so do rabbits. Birds will 
feed on the insects that thrive in clover and 
some will even nest in it. A well-maintained 
stand of white clover can last at least three years 
or more. However, instead of using ^w;/ variety, 
Fisher recommends using a seed cultivated 
specifically for deer. 

"There is a difference. I've tried clover sold 
as cattle forage and the deer definitely prefer 
the deer-specific varieties, " he says. 

Clover grows best when it is planted in the 
fall, usually mid-September into October, and 
will take off and flourish the following spring. 
Fisher, however, has had good success by top- 
sowing white clover directly on snow in the late 

"That's the great thing about clover. You 
don't have to turn any soil to get it established. 
I'll just spray an area with Roundup® in the late 
summer and then top-sow white clover in the 
early fall or in the late winter, " he explains. "As 
long as there is good rainfall, it will do well. " 


He also likes various brassicas, which include 
turnips, kale, rape, and even broccoli, al- 
though most food plot brassicas are turnips 
or rape. Like clover, brassicas also work best 
when planted in the fall and will provide ex- 
cellent late-season forage, typically after a 
hard frost or freeze. Deer often won't touch 
brassicas until the plants have been subjected 
to cold weather, which changes the molecu- 
lar structure of the plant and makes it more 
palatable. Brassicas have a small seed and are 
easy to grow, but they are annuals, meaning 
you'll need to plant a new crop each fall. 


Winter wheat is a great food plot choice, too. 
It's easy to grow and provides high-quality 
forage through the winter. It can turn into a 
hot dove field if left to mature in the sum- 
mer; simply mow or burn it prior to the sea- 

Deer love corn and beans, but both re- 
quire specialized equipment to plant and 
both require a large amount ot fertilizer. 
f "I wouldn't recommend corn or beans 

I unless you have experience farming. I can't 
(G) say they are any better at attracting wildlife 

than clover or something else that's easier to 
grow, although they do have some advan- 
tages," he notes. "Beans are great in the early 
bow season and corn is a good late-season 
food source." 

Testthe Dirt 

Before you throw the first seed or spread a sin- 
gle bag oi fertilizer or lime, it's vital to conduct 
a soil test. It's a simple, inexpensive step (free 
through Virginia Tech's cooperative extension 
offices) that could actually end up saving you 
money in the long run. A soil test will pin- 
point the various nutrients your ground is 
lacking and it will offer accurate data on the 
soil's pH level, a critical part of any successful 
food plot. 

"It will also benefit the environment by 
preventing excess nutrient run-off, " says 
Prince Edward County agriculture and natu- 
ral resources extension agent Eric Bowen. 

Soil test results are based on specific 
plant types. In other words, the lab conduct- 
ing the test can offer specific recommenda- 
tions of fertilizer and lime to suit the plant's 
needs in conjunction with current soil condi- 
tions. Bowen recommends two tests the first 
year and one every three years after that. 

A soil test (top) will save you money by helping you pinpoint your plot's fertilizer and 
lime needs. Not sure what to plant? Combine tfiree or four different plants or use a 
commercially-mixed blend. 

Food Plots and Bait: 
Is There a Difference? 

Proponents of baiting and feeding deer 
insist food plots are no different than a 
pile of corn spread on the ground. Not 
even close, says Matt Knox, deer project 
coordinator for the Department. Feeders 
artificially concentrate deer and other 
wildlife in confined areas over a pro- 
longed period, increasing the chance of 
disease and unnatural predation. They 
also alter deer behavior. A study in South 
Carolina found that deer in areas with 
high concentrations of feeders move less 
in general and more at night than in areas 
where baiting is illegal. Food plots allow 
deer to spread out and provide a number 
of benefits to a wide variety of wildlife 
that feeders can't. 

For Knox, however, the difference is 
an ethical one. Feeders create a Pavlovian 
response in whitetails much the same as 
a farmer blowing his horn to call cattle to 
the feed trough. The rattling sound of a 
feeder throwing corn can bring deer run- 
ning. Food plots, however, make no 
sound and don't condition deer to feed at 
any specific time. 

APRIL 20n ♦ 

The Complete Food Plot 

Instead of planting a patch of clover 
and calling it good, consider making 
your food plots even better by includ- 
ing field edge habitat. The Virginia De- 
partment of Forestry offers low-cost, 
w^ildlife-friendly seedlings. Ideally, field 
buffers should be 30 feet wide, but if 
space is an issue, do what you can. 

A few high-quality plants to con- 
sider include lespedeza, indigo bush, 
and silky dogwood— shrubs that not 
only provide cover, but food for quail 
and songbirds. Also consider planting 
fruit-bearing trees like plums, apples, 
and persimmons. Plant the lower 
growing shrubs adjacent to the food 
plot and the taller trees behind the 

For ordering information, visit 

Herbicides are one of the best tools you can use to establish a food plot and keep it 
weed-free. Carefully follow label instructions. 

Spreading seed, fertilizer, and lime can be 
done with a hand spreader. 

Prepthe Bed 

Once you've settled on a seed choice and deter- 
mincd nutrient requirements, you need to re- 
move any unwanted vegetation. Although 
Fisher generally doesn't turn any soil, he says it's 
important to reduce the existing plant growth 
as much as possible to allow seeds to reach the 
ground. He'll start by spraying the area with a 
non-selective herbicide like Roundup®. It's s;ife 
for you and the environment if used properly, 
but it will kill any plants it comes in contact 

with. As with any herbicide, don't apply it be- 
fore a rain storm and use only in the concen- 
tration recommended by the manufacturer. 

Fisher will wait a few weeks and then 
spray again, and a few weeks after that, he'll 
actually spread seed. Although many food 
plotters disk the soil prior to seeding, Fisher 
usually doesn't. Smaller seed like clover and 
brassicas can be top-sown directly on the 
ground as long as they can reach the soil and 
are subjected to a few days of rain. 

"I watch the weather. If we are going to 
get a couple ot days of cool rain, I'll put down 
my clover or brassicas," he says. 

Larger seeds like wheat, oats, or peas ger- 
minate best when covered by a thin layer of 
soil, although even they can be top-sown with 
moderate success. If you don't have a disk, 
seed heavier than normal. Not all of the seed 
will germinate and some will likely get eaten 
by birds. 


Along with an ATV-mounted or backpack 
sprayer, you'll need a broadcast spreader and a 
disk to expose a layer of surface soil. Small 
ATV-specific disks can work fine, but they 
often require several passes in order to cut 
through existing plants and expose earth, 
larger disks tend to cut through grass and 
other plant life better than smaller ones, and 
they cover more ground with each pass, but 
they require a tractor. 


Once the plants germinate, there's not much 
else to do besides watch them grow and then 
hunt over them. Eventually, though, you'll 
need to control the weeds that will inevitably 
grow where you don't want them to. One alter- 
native is to mow the plots twice a year — once 
in the spring when weeds are beginning to 
grow above the clover and again in the fall to 
control weeds and stimulate clover growth. 
Planting your rows wide enough to accommo- 
date mowing in between helps. Atiother op- 
tion is to use a selective herbicide that controls 
either grasses or broadleaf weeds. Food plot- 
specific herbicides are available through farm 
supply stores or through food plot seed com- 
panies like Whitetiiil Institute, which sells an 
herbicide that is clover-friendly. 

No matter what you plant, be prepared to 
make a few mistakes if you've never tried a food 
plot before. Fisher admits his first plots didn't 
do so well, but he's since learned what works 
and what doesn't. 

"It takes time to know what works best 
for your situation, " he says. "Don't take it too 
serious and have ftin. " 

And remember that a food plot is no sub- 
stitute for understanding deer or turkey behav- 
ior. You still have to hunt, food plot or not. ?f 

David Han is a full-time freelance writer and 
photographer from Rice. He is a regular contributor 
to numerous national huntingand fishing magtizines. 




looking for 

of new life 
from a fish that 
has seen it all. 

by Clarke C.Jones 
photos by Dwight Dyke 

As fish go, the Atlantic sturgeon 
will win few beauty pageants. 
With its rows oi bony plates, 
called scutes, a long snout with dangling, sen- 
sory barbels used to find prey, and a tail like a 
shark, it looks like an animal that has been 
around since the Cretaceous period should. 
look. But what the Atlantic sturgeon lacks in 
beauty, it makes up for with the will of self- 
preservation. Over 200 million years ago, it 
was seeking refiage from predators like the 
Mosasaiii or perhaps the Plesiosaur. Now it 
fights for survival against river pollutants. 

chemicitls, overfishing, and ocean-going ves- 
sels that travel up the river James on their way 
to Richmond. The sturgeon is an anadro- 
mous fish like the salmon, meaning that it 
spawns in freshwater rivers and then moves to 
the ocean to live; then returns to spawn in 
fresh water. Early records indicate that as 
many as 20,000 sturgeon used the James 
River prior to commercial harvesting in the 
mid- 19th century. It was thought by many 
that the Atlantic sturgeon no longer exists 
today in the James, although rumors persisted 
that they had been seen. 

Pretty or not, the Adantic sturgeon has 
certainly capmred the heart of a number of 
scientists, environmentalists, and a few corpo- 
rate leaders here in Virginia. They have under- 
taken a study to confirm that the Atlantic 
sturgeon does indeed still spawn in the James 
River and, with that knowledge, hope to 
bring it back from what some fear is the brink 
of extinction. 

Monitoring James River 
Sturgeon Today 

On an early summer day in 2010, Lower 
James Riverkeeper Chuck Frederickson mo- 

tors his 23-foot Maritime skiff out of its slip at 
Jordon Point near Hopewell and points it up- 
river. Mark Williams, the environmental 
manager for Luck Stone Corporation, is ac- 
companying us on a search for sturgeon eggs 
along a manmade reef in the James. The reef 
was assembled from two fiill barge-loads of 
stone, of specific sizes, donated by Luck Stone 
and placed with the assistance of Norfolk Tug 
and Coastal Design in hopes that sturgeon 
would find it a suitable habitat for spawning. 

Mark noted that the project really start- 
ed with the James River Association and Dr. 
Greg Carman at VCU. Riverkeeper Freder- 
ickson applied for a grant from the National 
Fish and Wildlife Foundation to implement 
his ideas about creating a spawning reef It 
wasn't long before Carman, at the Center for 
Environmental Studies at VCU, got involved. 

"VCU wants to be a recognized educa- 
tional leader in river studies and our company 
had worked with VCU on a previous project. 
Environmental stewardship has been a great 
tenet of the Luck Stone Corporation since the 
company started in 1923," notes Williams. 
Indeed, Luck Stone has a long history of 
championing environmental projects. 

Frederickson brings his boat alongside an 
area of die reef where we can grab onto a small 
buoy. Attached to that buoy, at a 
depth of approximately 14 feet, is 
a circular floor-polishing mat — 
like the ones you see used on floors in 
commercial buildings and public schools. 
He carefully pulls on the rope to bring the mat 
to the surface and looks at its underside — 
which has been lying on the reef Attached to 
the bottom of the mat are a number ol differ- 
ent types of tiny animal life, including some 
fish eggs, proving that fish and other creatures 
have accepted these mats as a viable habitat for 
safe reproduction. We discover that there are 
shad, white perch, and other fish eggs present. 
But we are looking for sturgeon eggs, which 
are black, and there are no black eggs on this 
mat. The riverkeeper gently lowers the mat 
back on the reef He will return throughout 
the year, selecting one of the numerous buoys 
above the reef to repeat this exercise and deter- 
mine if any sturgeon eggs have collected. 

Later in the summer, Frederickson ferries 
us again up the James. On this trip are Doug 
Palmore, the vice-president of environmental 
design and development at Luck Stone, and 

On page 9, researcher Matt Balazik places 
a tagged sturgeon back into the James 
River. Left, Chuck Frederickson, along with 
Mark Williams of Luck Stone (R), examines 
one of the tracking devices that monitor 
sturgeon in the river. 

Luck's stewardship coordinator. Amy 
Romero, as well as more sophisticated com- 
puter and tracking equipment than was on 
board the Pueblo\ We have two missions: 
first, to locate previously tagged sturgeon 
using Frederickson's high-tech equipment 
and record our findings; and second, to head 
about a mile or so west upriver from 
Hopewell to see if Matt Balazik, a doctoral 
candidate at VCU, is having any luck catch- 
ing sturgeon in one of the four 900-loot nets 
he and his crew have placed in the river. 

We get a "ping" from a tagged sturgeon 
almost immediately after Frederickson lowers 
his sonar device into the water. With his 
equipment, he is able to tell us when the fish 
was tagged, whether it is a male or a female, its 
general current location, and where it has 
been. While some sturgeon spawn once a 
year, it is thought that there may be both a 
spring and a fall spawning season in the 

Balazik and his crew of two have fin- 
ished placing the nets in position. These nets 
have 12-inch spacing, to allow smaller fish to 
pass through. Balazik is interested in catching 
and tagging mature male and female stur- 
geon. In particular, what he and everyone else 
involved in this research are looking for is a 

Chuck Frederickson carefully studies a reef 
mat for sign of sturgeon eggs. 

APRIL 2011 ♦ 11 

gravid sturgeon (gravid, meaning a female 
fish that is carrying eggs she will release in 
the water). Finding a gravid fish will be an- 
other step in providing proof that sturgeon 
do in fact spawn in the James. There are 
strong indications that they do — as young 
sturgeon had been captured in the river by 
the Chesapeake Bay Foundation a few years 

Assisted by his brother Martin and 
Masters student Bree Langford, Matt Bal- 
azik begins to pull on die first 900-foot net 
but it comes up empty. Martin then motors 
over to another net. Matt and Bree begin 
the arduous task of bringing in yet another 
900-foot net. It too is empty. At the third 
net, we see something white entangled 
within — about 30 yards from Balazik's 
boat — but it slips away just as he tries to lift 
it into his vessel. At the fourth net we have 
luck, but hauling up a 75-pound fighting 
fish that has no interest in leaving the river 
is, to put it mildly, quite a delicate and diffi- 
cult task. The longer the sturgeon is entan- 
gled in the net, the more stress it undergoes. 
Balazik has to bring the fish into his boat 
imd place it in the water-filled holding tank 
while gathering in the rest of the net, in case 
more sturgeon are trapped inside. He dis- 
covers two more sturgeon, and they also 
have to be brought into the boat. Balazik 
then must step into the holding tank — 
which the 4- to 5-ft. sturgeon really do not 
appreciate — then lift each fish out so that it 
can be weighed, measured, sexed, and 
tagged with a sonar tag. That tag can track 
the fish's movements for up to three years. 
Once a sturgeon is tagged, its travels will be 
monitored by one of the 36 tracking re- 
ceivers positioned ftom the mouth of the 
James to just east ot Richmond. Frederick- 
son explains, "We can tell what fish came by, 
when it came by, and how long it stayed in 
the area." 

Research teams in other states, who 
track fish in different waterways with the 
same type of equipment, may also track the 
tagged sturgeon — which have migrated 
from the fresh water of the James, through 

Bree Langford, in back, records sturgeon 
data collected by Martin Balazik (L) and 
Matt Balazik. 

Dr. Greg Garman (L) of VCU holds a young sturgeon in the Environmental Studies lab. Above, Doug Palmore and Amy Romero 
of Luck Stone review/ sturgeon data. 

its life cycle in the ocean, and back again into 
other rivers. The researchers will then report 
that information back to VCU and the James 
River Association. Again, Frederickson ex- 
plains, "This lets us share our information 
with other entities conducting fish studies by 
sending it to a central database." 

Balazik works hurriedly and shouts out 
the measurements and tag number to Lang- 
ford, who records everything. A holding tank 
is not a natural environment for such large 
fish, and they splash and thrash to escape. Bal- 
azik is cognizant of the stress they are under 
and quickly places the first fish back into the 
river and retrieves the next. This team will 
check the nets three to four times a day during 
spawning season. 

Study Objectives 

Both VCU and the James River Association 
hope to confirm, through this research, that 
James River sturgeon spawn in the James and 
how often. Dr. Greg Garman, director of 
VCU's Center for Environmental Studies, is 
quick to point out the contribution that Luck 
Stone has made to sturgeon research here. 

"Ever since the Civil War, sedimentation into 
the James has increased, and most of the hard 
bottom of the James that has been there his- 
torically is now gone. We think the restricted 
access to that type of hard bonom habitat has 
been a limiting factor in sturgeon reproduc- 
tion in the James. If it wasn't for Luck Stone 
coming to us and asking, 'How can we help?' 
and then responding positively to our re- 
quest of providing 2,200 tons of crushed ag- 
gregate — it is doubtful this project would 
have been able to proceed." Dr. Garman fur- 
ther emphasizes: "Luck Stone also provided 
certain specified sizes of stone which we felt 
were necessary to make this a successful proj- 
ect. My point being that the company just 
didn't go to any pile of rock they had or just 
any type of stone in their inventory that they 
may have wanted to get rid of" 

How long does Dr. Garman think it 
will take to get definitive results from this 
study? "We have given ourselves a 5-year 
time span to see if this project worked by 
pulling up one of those egg mats at the reef 
site and finding a linle black sturgeon egg 
underneath," he answers. 

We watch as Balazik places the last tagged 
sturgeon in the river. Our photographer packs 
away his camera and Riverkeeper Frederick- 
son points the bow of his boat eastward as we 
head back to the landing. It is easy to see why 
everyone who is involved in this project wants 
to see it succeed. The fact that this fish has sur- 
vived for millions of years with everything 
that has been thrown at it makes it hard to ac- 
cept that its existence might end on our 
watch. ?$■ 

Clarke C. Jones is afreeLmce writer who spends his 
spare time with his black lab, Luke, hunting up good 
stories. You can read more by Clarke at his website 
www. clarkecjones. co»i. 


James River Association & 

Riverkeeper Chuck Frederickson: 

VCU, videos and lesson plans: 

APRIL 2011 ♦ 13 

A decline in l<eyfood 

sources has been linl<ed 

to tlie precarious state 


by GlendaC. Booth 

ily black goop from the Deepwa- 
ter Horizon well blowout was 
coating birds and globs were 
oozing toward coastal states in the Gulf of 
Mexico last May. At the time, a Virginia Tech 
team of scientists and I were traipsing north 
on a clean, white stretch of Virginia barrier is- 
land beach with not a person, structure, vehi- 
cle, or boat in sight and only the sound of 
waves gendy tapping the shoreline. 

We were pursuing an amazing bird, the 
red knot {Calidris canutus), a bird with an 
amusing name and an astounding story. 

With a russet-colored face and breast, 
this nine-inch sandpiper (subspecies rufa) 
performs one of the longest migrations of any 
bird. From southernmost Argentina and 
South American spots to the high Arctic and 
back, it flies 19,000 miles round trip! In 
2010, one six-ounce knot, as admirers call it, 
flew non-stop for six days and nights, cover- 
ing 5,000 miles between southern Brazil and 
North Carolina and breaking the previous 
known record by nearly 700 miles. This glob- 
al traveler stops on Virginia's barrier islands 
and the Delaware Bay every spring, starved, 
thin, and exhausted. 

Experts say that many knots synchronize 
their migration to the spawning of horseshoe 
crabs in Delaware Bay where the birds gorge 
on crab eggs for two to three weeks to fatten 
up— doubling their weight for their flight to 

their Arctic breeding grounds. One bird can 
gobble up to 25,000 eggs aday. Virginia Tech's 
Jonathan Cohen says the "rufa-horseshoe crab 
egg relationship is unique in the world." 

A Refueling Station 

Deserved attention often focuses on the red 
knots that visit Delaware Bay. While that egg- 
eating frenzy is no doubt impressive, Virginia 
can lay claim to its very own red knot spring 

Around 27 to 30 percent of the East 
Coast population of migrating knots visit Vir- 
ginia's barrier islands, an area that has no signif- 
icant spawns of horseshoe crabs. There, knots 
eat the coquina clam {Donax variabilis), blue 
mussels, amphipods, and polychaete worms in 
the intertidal zone, say Tech's scientists. They 
study knots on the ground while William and 
Mary's Bryan D. Watts and Barry Truitt, Na- 
ture Conservancy, conduct aerial surveys. 

This string of 1 8 islands, a shifting "pile 
of sand, " is the longest expanse of coastal 
wilderness on the eastern seaboard, forming 
a tapestry of maritime forests, shrub thickets, 
brackish ponds, lagoons, salt marshes, sea- 
level fens, eelgrass beds, grass-covered dunes, 
and wide expanses of sand. 

The area claims several important desig- 
nations, including a United Nations Interna- 
tional Man and the Biosphere Reserve, a 
Globally-Important Bird Area (Western 
Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network), 
and an Audubon Important Bird Area 
(IBA). Around 95 percent ot the islands is 
protected by the Nature Conservancy, Vir- 
ginia's Department oi Conservation and 
Recreation (Wreck Island Natural Area Pre- 
serve), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS), and this Department (Mockhorn 
Wildlife Area). 

Nature thrives. 

The Knot's Precarious Status 

Numbers don't lie. The overall numbers of 
red knots have plummeted an alarming 80 to 
90 percent in 30 years, from an estimated 
1 00,000-1 50,000 to below 30,000, scientists 
agree. Since the mid-2000s, populations have 
been relatively stable at low levels, reports the 
FWS Spotlight Action Plan. 

How many red knots use Virginia's is- 
lands in the spring? The numbers vary greatly, 
stresses Fraser, but probably 6,000 to 8,000 
knots stop there. Aerial surveys conducted by 
Watts and Truitt in May estimated 8,100 at 
their peak in one day in 20 1 0. 

Virginia's Wildlife Action PLin identifies 
the knot as a "species of greatest conservation 

need. " The Western Hemisphere Shorebird 
Reserve Network calls the rufa red knot 
"highly imperiled." FWS says it warrants 
protection as a federal endangered species, 
but listing is "precluded by higher priority 
listing actions for species at greater risk." 
Audubon scientists say the knot is in danger 
of extinction. 

Finding Answers and Solutions 

Since 2006, the Virginia Tech team has 
spent six weeks on the islands studying 
knots. When they catch the birds, they 
record weight and body measurements and 
snap on a light green flag that denotes that 
the bird was caught in the United States and 

Above, a red knot resting; below, a pair of horseshoe crabs mating. Both images courtesy 
of Gregory Breese, FWS. Left, red knots feed on horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay, NJ. 
©Lynda Richardson 

APRIL 2011 ♦ 15 

Belita Marine waits in the dunes to 
detonate the cannons that propel the 
catch net over birds in the catch zone. 

The Virginia Tech team furls the net under the direction of Dr. Jim Fraser. 

a numbered flag as an individual identifier. 
They attach radio tags to some to track move- 
ments. This team and others are trying to an- 
swer several questions. 

Why do the knots concentrate in 
Delaware Bay? Red knots may once have 
been up and down the entire Atlantic Coast. 
FWS experts say that their historic range 
spanned fi^om Maine to Florida, Louisiana, 
and Texas. Congregating in Delaware Bay 
may be a response to coastal development, the 
fact that very litde habitat remains undevel- 
oped, says Fraser. 

What do they eat? Researchers are ana- 
lyzing feces and the food supply from 349 
substrate samples. "Virginia's" knots primari- 
ly eat Donax clams, concludes Fraser. 

Can knots gain enough weight eating bi- 
valves to make their journey to the Arctic? 
Fraser is comparing the caloric value of crab 
eggs and clams. The birds arrive weighing 
around three ounces ("Rc;il skinny," he says) 
and gain up to eight. 

Are knots in ec]uilibrium with the avail- 
able horseshoe crab eggs? Arc horseshoe crabs 
over-exploited? Have the number of knots 
decHiied because available horseshoe crab 

eggs have declined from over-harvesting or 
other causes? The impact of the harvesting of 
horseshoe crabs on the red knot generates an 
ongoing discussion and analysis. 

"The number of horseshoe crab eggs was 
the most important factor determining the 
use of Delaw;ire Bay beaches by red knots . . .," 
wrote Tech scientist Sarah Karpanty in a 2006 
Journal ofWiUlife Management article, ob- 
serving that in the past two decades, "a de- 
creasing proportion of red knots has reached 
the weight required to complete the north- 
ward migration from Delaware Bay." 

One surprising finding is that some 
knots move between Virginia and Delaware 
Bay during their migratory stopover Tliis in- 
dicates more flexible migratory movements 
than previously thought and emphasizes the 
importance of the entire mid-Atlantic coast 
to their journey. 

Do knots feed during the night? Brian 
Gerber, a graduate student, roamed Wreck Is- 
land all night with a night-vision scope ;uid 
found 1 50 knots feecfing. "Tliey were going 
nuts on the peat banks," he reports, dispelling 
the notion that they only roost at night. 

Have changes in their breeding grounds 

had an impact? In the Arctic, knots eat lem- 
mings and lemmings may be declining. Since 
lemmings depend on snow cycles, globd cli- 
mate change could reduce their numbers. 
"We don't have a clue what's going in the Arc- 
tic and we need a better handle on what's 
going on, " says Truitt. 

Many questions beg for answers. "At one 
time, knots blackened the sky," says Fraser. "If 
they become extinct, it would take away 
something fiindamental. Something is wrong 
in the environment." 

Can the Knot Be Saved? 

The dramatic decline in numbers and the fact 
that the knot uses a narrow band of habitats 
not widely available are special concerns. A 
large-scale event like an oil spill, the presence 
of a wind turbine, or stresses on their breeding 
or wintering grounds could exacerbate their 

Habitat inundation from sea level rise, 
invasive plants, and predator and human dis- 
turbances during the nesting season have ad- 
verse impacts also. 

FWS and an international team at the 
Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences 


Red knots congregate in shallow coastal waters to feed. Courtesy of Gregory Breese, FWS 

have developed conservation plans which in- 
clude steps like enhancing coastal habitats 
and annually assessing the bird's status. 

"What we need," says Truitt, "is a net- 
work of sites throughout the hemisphere 
cover where shorebirds winter, where they 
stop over, and where they breed, because the 
impacts at any one of those sites can cause 
cascading effects in the population." 

Many experts link the decline in knot 
population with the decline of key food re- 
sources, such as fewer horseshoe crabs that 
are taken for bait to catch eels and conch and 
to support the biomedical industry. "Over- 
harvest of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay 
and the related degradation of foraging con- 
ditions has been one of the leading factors 
proposed to explain knot declines," says 
William and Mary's Center for Conservation 
Biology website. Horseshoe crab fishing in- 
creased twenty-fold in the 1 990s. 

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries 
Commission has imposed harvest quotas 
and a no-harvest zone on horseshoe crabs off 
the mouth of the Delaware Bay. Virginia, 
New Jersey, and Delaware limit their catch 
for bait. 

Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan calls for 
long-term planning to stabilize or increase 
the populations. 

ATemporary Haven 

After a rwo-mile trek on a deserted beach 
streaked in shades of tan and gray like the 
curvy lines of an oyster shell, we zoomed our 
binoculars in on a flock of shorebirds forag- 
ing in the surf, skittering landward as the 
waves rippled up the beach. Binoculars fo- 
cused, "Orange," I scream. "An orange 

"Argentina," yells Eraser. "The knot was 
banded there. " 

It took my breath away. This litde bird 
with the fiinny name goes from one end of 
the Earth to the other. It reaffirmed my faith 
in nature to know that this fragile creature 
found respite and protection on Virginia's 
coast. It made me a proud Virginian to 
know that my state could be its host, if only 
briefly. ?^ 

Glenda C. Booth, a freelance writer, grew up in 

Southwest Virginia and has lived in Northern 
Virginia over 30 years where she is active in 
conservation efforts. 


Fact Sheet, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 
Regulations addressing the harvesting of 
horseshoe crabs and commercial fisheries 
management measures 

Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan, 

Nature Conservancy's Virginia Coast 




Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve 
Network,, Information on 
the status of shorebirds of conservation 
concern for the western hemisphere and 
Shorebird Conservation Plan 

APRIL 201 1 ♦ 17 

Tiny Turtle 

Looking FOR A 


The smallest turtle in the United States faces 
some of the biggest challenges. 

story by Cristino Sontiestevan ♦ illustrations by Spike Knuth 

Measuring no more than 4V2 
inches long, bog turtles are 
the smallest freshwater turtle 
species in North America. They are also the 
rarest. Virginia listed bog turtles as endan- 
gered in 1987. A decade later, the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service added them to the En- 
dangered Species List. Bog turdes remain on 
both lists to this day. 

In Virginia, bog turdes are found in just 
four coimties in the southern Blue Ridge — 
Carroll, Floyd, Grayson, and Patrick. This 
high, mountainous region is pocked with 
ideal bog turtle habitat: freshwater wetlands, 
marshy meadows, and sun-washed springs, 
streams, and seeps. Yet, even within these 
four counties, bog turdes are still exceedingly 
rare. In one recent survey, the Department 
found bog turtles on only 14 of more than 89 
surveyed sites. Current estimates by the 
North Carolina Herpetelogical Society sug- 
gest Virginias entire bog turtle population in- 
cludes no more than 3,000 individuals. 

In general terms, the challenges facing 
bog turtles are not so different than those fac- 
ing many threatened and endangered 
species. Their greatest threat? Habitat loss 
and destruction due to development and 
other human activities. More specifically, 
bog turtles suffer when their native wetlands 
are altered or drained to allow for cropland, 
golf courses, or houses. In the wrong loca- 
tion, roads can also form lethal barriers be- 
tween neighboring wetlands. Wetlands, of 
course, provide a suite of beneficial services, 
from flood control to water quality improve- 

Invasive plants contribute to the prob- 
lem by out-competing native ones. Purple 
loosestrife is one of the worst offenders. In 
some areas, the plant grows so densely that all 
other plants are forced out. The result is an 
inhospitable monoculture which offers nei- 
ther the food nor the shelter that bog turdes 

But, habitat destruction and fragmenta- 
tion is only part of the bog turtles' story. An- 
other factor is working against them. 
Pint-sized and marked with a splash of bright 
yellow-orange on the side of their necks, these 
turtles are simply too cute for their own good. 
People want them as pets. Although bog tur- 
tles have been protected by the Convention 
on Internadonal Trade in Endangered Species 
(CITES) since 1975, a lucrative illegal pet 
trade still exists. Individual bog turdes are sold 
on the black market, tempting poachers to 
capture and sell them. 

Even the largest bog turtles are small enough 
to be held in the palm of a child's hand. Males 
and females are essentially the same size, al- 
though males generally have a longer tail and 
a concave plastron (lower shell). Bog tunles 
are not picky eaters, and will consume a range 
of plants and animals: insects, earthworms, 
tadpoles, crayfish and snails, as well as berries, 
duckweed, and the seeds of pondweed and 
sedges. The turtles are most active in the 
morning and evening hours, and typically 
spend the middle of the day in shallow water 
or saturated mud. During the hottest weeks 
of the summer, bog turdes will escape the 
worst of the heat by burrowing into the cool 
mud of a wetland. 

Bog turtles hibernate during the winter 
months, seeking shelter from the cold in 
abandoned muskrat holes, or in clumps of 
sedges and deep mud. Once spring arrives, 
the turtles emerge for another season of eat- 
ing, growing, and breeding. Bog turtles are 
most active during the spring and early sum- 
mer months. They breed from late April 
through early June, and females then lay 
clutches of three to five eggs in nests of grass, 
sphagnum moss, or mud. The hatchlings 
emerge by late summer or early fall. It will be 
approximately six years before these hatch- 
lings are old enough to breed. 


Act Wild 

Here are three sinnple ways you can help 
Virginia's turtles: 

1. Welcome turtles into your yard or gar- 
den by planting native flowers and 
shrubs, which offer both food and shel- 
ter. If you have a stream, pond, or 
marshy area, allow some of it to stay 
wild with water-loving plants. If a natu- 
ral water source does not exist, consider 
adding a ground-level pond or birdbath. 

2. Help wild turtles stay wild. Never re- 
move a turtle from its natural environ- 
ment or move it to another location. 
There is one important exception: 
roads. Any turtle found in a roadway 
should be moved to the side of the 
road, away from the dangers of vehi- 
cles, if safe for you to do so. 

3. Turtles do not make good pets. 
They live a very long time, have 
strict diet and care needs, and 
often become ill in captivity. But 
if you do have a pet turtle, never 
release it into the wild. Captive 
turtles can introduce disease 
and interbreed with wild pop- 

Purple loosestrife 

Loggerhead sea turtle 

Trouble for Turtles 

More than half of Virginia's 22 turtle species are considered 
"Species of Greatest Conservation Need," and are listed in the 
state's Wildlife Action Plan. The 12 listed species include the 
bog turtle, two coastal turtles— loggerhead sea turtles and 
diamondback terrapins— multiple water turtles, and both the 
wood turtle and the Eastern box turtle. Globally, more than 
40 percent of the world's 461 turtle species are consid- 
ered threatened or endangered. For many species, 
extinction is a very real threat. 

With their armored shells and slow-but- 
steady approach to life, turtles seem like 
they should be able to take care of them- 
selves. Why are so many species threat- 

Slow-but-steady may be part of the 
problem. Most turtles grow slowly, and 

Diamondback terrapin 


don't reproduce until they are five to ten 
years old, if not older. Some species only 
lay a few eggs at a time— bog turtles aver- 
age three to five eggs per nest— and oth- 
ers only reproduce every second or third 
year. Eggs and hatchlings are also readily 
eaten by a range of predators, from rac- 
coons and foxes to domesticated dogs 
and cats. As a result, turtle populations 
rebound very slowly and may require 
generations to recover from a threat. 
But slow population growth is not a prob- 
lem unless some outside pressure is con- 
tributing to population decline. In the case of 
turtles, these outside pressures are multiple: 
habitat loss and degradation, roadway mortality, 
poaching and over-collection for the pet and food 
trades, disease, and introduced species. Roads and 
development top the list of threats for many turtle 
species. For example, wood turtles have lost half of 
their range in Virginia to urban development and 
are now listed as a threatened species in the state. 

Learn more about turtle threats and conservation 



In many ways, as outlined here, bog tur- 
tles are much like other water turtles. Their 
life cycle is not terribly different from more 
common species, such as the painted turtle. 
The greatest difference isn't one of behavior or 
size, but of habitat preference. While painted 
turdes are typically found in ponds, lakes, and 
other permanent water features, bog turtles 
thrive in marshy fields and shallow wetlands. 

The trouble is twofold. The spread of 
human development — from suburban 
homesteads to rural cornfields — has swal- 
lowed an incredible 98 percent of the bog tur- 
tle's natural range. And, of the 2 percent that 
remains, natural habitat succession is gradual- 
ly converting those wet meadows into shaded 
forest. As the trees creep closer, the turdes 
leave. In time, the marshy meadow will be 
completely overtaken by trees. It will become 
a forest. Eastern box turtles live in forests, but 
bog turdes do not. 

Habitat succession is an entirely natural 
thing. This is nothing new. Marshy meadows 
have been giving way to forests for eons. Until 
relatively recently, this was no problem for 
bog turtles or other early successional species, 
because nature was continually creating new 
meadows. As some meadows were swallowed 
by forests, others would be created through 
forest fires or beaver activity. Perhaps just as 
important, large grazing animals like the 
bison that roamed Virginia's grasslands 
helped to keep invading trees in check. 

Wood turtle 

But we've long-since hunted the last 
bison in Virginia. Fires are no longer allowed 
to burn uncontrolled. And suburbs continue 
to march ever fiirther into the landscape. In 
the process, acres of wilderness are converted 
into streets, sidewalks, and manicured lawns. 
We have lost countless meadows and pockets 
of marshland as a result, and the species that 
depend upon them are suffering. 

There is hope, however, for bog turtles 
and other meadow-loving species. Informed 
by current science, land management prac- 
tices are beginning to reintroduce fire — well 
controlled — to the landscape. Restoration ef- 
forts are addressing issues of habitat loss and 
fragmentation, as well as invasive plants. And, 
in some places, Virginia's modern-day grazers 
— canle, sheep, goats, alpacas — may be able 
to step in and help. 

Most importantly, however, we must 
protect the wetlands where bog turtles are id- 
ready living from further human encroach- 
ment. The highland meadows of Carroll, 
Floyd, Grayson, and Patrick counties are the 
last homes of bog turtles in Virginia. With so 
lew places left to them, each marsh, wetland, 
and slow-flowing spring is essential to the sur- 
vival of bog turdes in the state. By protecting 
these last places, while simultaneously restor- 
ing other fields and bogs, perhaps we can en- 
sure a future where Virginia's bog turtles have 
more than four counties to call home. ?f 

Cristina Santiestevan writes about wildlife and the 
environment from her home in Virginia's Blue 
Ridge Mountains. 

Eastern box turtle 

APRIL 2011 ♦ 21 

Corporate Habitat Program 

Reaches 1 0-Year Milestone 

byCorolA. Heiser 

This spring, the Department cele- 
brates its 10-year anniversary of 
the Habitat Partners® Corporate 
Habitat program. This program assists with 
the planning of new conservation projects 
on commercial or industrial properties and 
recognizes such efforts and results. 

Department staff can schedule a site 
visit to provide guidance and recommend 
appropriate native plant choices and habi- 
tat improvement methods. A habitat edu- 
cation program or training may also be 
arranged for company employees. The 

business then implements the project on 
its own timeline using its own resources. 
When the project is successfully completed 
and meets the program criteria, it is eligible 
for a Habitat Partners® certificate and sign. 
There is no fee to participate in the pro- 

Four different companies whose proj- 
ects illustrate a variety of habitat conserva- 
tion practices are showcased here. Of 
course, every company has its own unique 
needs and site parameters or constraints, 
but what they ;ill have in common is a de- 
sire to improve the work environment for 
their employees, restore balanced wildlife 

Left, students explore nature around a con- 
structed wetland at Boxley Quarry. Critical 
habitat has been created for declining 
amphibians like this female wood frog. Top, 
a drainage swale of native vegetation forms 
a buffer to capture runoff from the parking 
area at Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. 


The Capital One meadow planting (L) and planting bed 
above feature native plants that attract wildlife. 

habitats, and reduce long-term maintenance 
costs. Go to 
to see streaming video of each of these pro- 
jects and learn more about Habitat Part- 

Boxley Quarry-Amherst County: 

For 1 years the folks at Boxley's Piney River 
Quarry have worked with Mike Hayslett, a 
local naturalist, to restore pocket wetlands 
and vernal pools on the non-active portions 
of their property. These pools provide invalu- 
able habitat for frogs, salamanders, and other 
amphibians that need moist areas to breed 
and live our their life cycles. The commit- 
ment to preserve the unique natural heritage 
on the Boxley site includes an education 
component, as they frequently host school 
field trips for children to experience nature 

Capital One, West Creek 
Campus-Goochland County: 

This 100-plus acre site features ongoing 
grounds maintenance with an eye towards 
sustainable best practices. Capital One's 
conservation and 'be green efforts include 
no-mow zones, a campus tree farm, a blue 
bird nest box trail, native plantings and a 
new meadow garden along a wooded edge 
that attracts butterflies and birds. A Green 
Team of about 200 Capital One associates 
have assisted with over a dozen projects. 

Wetland Studies and Solutions, 
Inc. -Prince William County: 

WSSI has raised the bar in setting the in- 
dustry standard for low-impact develop- 
ment (LID). Although their site is barely 
four acres, it boasts a green roof, a rainwater 

containment system with 8,000 gallon cis- 
tern for irrigation, permeable paving with 
gravel detention, a centralized rain garden, 
and conservation landscaping with native 
plants throughout. Not only is the property a 
wildlife habitat oasis in a major urban area, 
but its design also ensures that any stormwa- 
ter passing through the site is either intercept- 
ed or filtered in some way to improve water 
quality, before the remaining runoff enters a 
nearby stream. WSSI provides wetland 
restoration services and offers LID seminars 
and trainings for professionals in the region. 

Pfizer Consumer Health Care- 
City of Richmond: 

Small habitat "islands" have been install? 
several parts of this property to break uf 
large expanse of lawn that's so typical arqffa 
office buildings. A perennial pollinator 
den graces the front entrance, and many 
shrubs and trees are now part of a nature trail 
for employees. A rain garden has also been 
strategically placed to capture runoff from 
one of the parking areas. The compariy's 

Wildlife Habitat Committee meets regularly 
to discuss conservation matters, and each year 
they hold an Earth Day event for employees 
and their families to learn more about the 
outdoors. ?f 

Carol A. Heiser is a wildlife habitat education 
coordinator at the Virginia Department of Game and 
Inhind Fisheries. 

The rain garden at Pfizer Consumer Health 
Care (above) collects runoff from the lawn 
and paved areas. Visitors to the WSSI green 
roof (L) routinely see butterflies, bees, and 
other insects drawn to flowering plants. 

APRIL 201 1 ♦ 23 


story & photos 
by King Montgomery 


ure, 1 love to fly fish, but I'd also 
like to do a hunting show for the 
'Sportsman Channel," Curtis 
Fleming revealed as we talked in the huge, 
high-ceiling showroom of the Grove's Harley- 
Davidson store in Winchester. 

I told him he barely has enough time 
now to host and produce his Fly Rod Chroni- 
cles with Curtis Fleming on the Sportsman 
Channel. How did he expect to double his 
and his crew's workload? He shrugged, but 
knowing Curtis, he'll pull it ofFsomehow. 

Fleming lives in Winchester and hosts 
the very popular TV show that he and good 
friend Steve Hasty shoot in the Old Domin- 
ion, in other parts of the country and, recent- 
ly, overseas in such places as Belize and 
Mexico. Together, and with help as needed 
from other local videographers, they've pro- 
duced almost 1 00 shows in the past five years. 

The Show 

Fly Rod Chronicles (FRC) is not your typical 
fishing show. A couple of guys don't just sit or 
stand around catching fish, congratulating 
each other every time one is landed. No, says 
Fleming, his show is more "reality fly fishing " 
that includes a total package of the experience 
both on and ofi^the water. 

One good example is when FRC films 
the annual Project Healing Waters Fly Fish- 
ing (PHWFF) 2-Fly Tournament held each 
May at the Rose River Farm near Syria. Here 
Fleming wades into the river with 
producer/cameraman Steve Hasty and visits 
with the combat-wounded and disabled vet- 
erans who participate in the event. No one is 
watching the clock. 

Oh, sure, there are the grip-and-grin fish 
shots, and occasional chorus of "nice fish, " 
but Fleming's Fly Rod Chronicles is as much 
about people and places as it is about fish. I try 
to capture die entire experience," Fleming re- 
lates. "It's about the beauty of the natural set- 
tings and the local communities." 

In his episodes, Fleming has fished with 
local experts who know their home waters 
and the best barbecue establishment in town; 
with wounded and disabled vets eager to 
catch fish and tell their story; with breast can- 
cer survivors fishing and healing through 

Top, former Army Sgt. Josh Williams swings a 
nymph along in the Rose River, while fishing 
great Joe Humphries looks on. Above, Steve 
Hasty videos Curtis Fleming (L) and Lefty 
Kreh at the PHWFF tournament last May. 


Casting for Recovery; with young hot-shor and 
older, grizzled fishing guides and outfitters; 
and with Fortune 500 CEOs. 

Curtis Fleming has an infectious sense of 
humor and an affinity for putting folks at ease 
on and off-camera. On and off the water, he 
seeks and takes instruction well, and he is 
eager to share this knowledge with his audi- 
ence. Thus, FRC always is instructional as 
well as very entenaining. Viewers find them- 
selves laughing a lot. 

After the fun of interviewing, fishing, 
and camera work, the work really begins. But 
it's work that producer Steve Hasty relishes. 
His editing studio is in his home in Burke, so 
he's got a good commute. Hasty will spend 
three or four days converting digital tape into 
an hour-long TV show, leaving space for the 
ever-present and very important commer- 

Once the video part is put together, he 
emails a voice-over script to Fleming in Win- 
chester. Fleming has equipment in his home 
to record any necessary changes and additions 
to the audio portion and emails the result 
back to Hasty, who plugs it in at the appropri- 
ate places in the story. 

Hasty then dubs in music, some of 
which he composes electronically on his suite 
of gear, to highlight various scenes in the pro- 
gram. He also adds tides and other graphics. 
Putting together a TV show provides room to 
express oneself artistically, and Steve has be- 
come a master at doing just that. 

Once all of the audio-video work is 
done, and the two men are happy with the re- 
sult, the show is downloaded to a flash drive 
and mailed to the Sportsman Channel stu- 
dios in Wisconsin. The show will go on the air 
within a few weeks. 

But back to the Grove's Harley-David- 
son store in Winchester. . . I tagged along that 
day with Curtis, Steve, cameraman Russ 
Hasty, and three gentlemen from the store: 
General manager Jake Rickard, and Harley- 
Davidson mechanics Russ Basalyga and 
Justin Wheeler. Fleming and his guests would 
bike from Winchester to the Rose River Farm 
to shoot a show on the gorgeous and fenile 
Rose River. Fleming was astride his beloved 

Curtis Fleming chats with former U.S. 
Marine Bill Johnson, who lost both legs in 
the Vietnam War. Johnson has helped with 
PHWFF since its inception. 

During filming of Fly Rod Chronicles, Curtis Fleming holds a nice rainbow caught by Jake 
Rickard, general manager of Grove's Harley-Davidson in Winchester 

custom H-D Street Glider with a superb fly- 
fishing motif expertly painted on in black and 
silver. The rest of us drove down in a more 
conventional vehicle. 

Douglas Dear, owner of Rose River 
Farm, and head fishing guide Gary Burwell 
met us as our mini-convoy parked near the 
stream. Some of the trees were showing their 
early fall colors, the sky was mostly blue, and 
the stream gurgled along with the look offish. 
This stretch of the Rose teems with chunky 
rainbow trout and some brookies, and it pro- 
vides a pastoral setting for a television show 
featuring bikers, fly fishing, and trout. Yes, 
this is reality fly fishing! 

After the Harley lads suited up in hip 
boots and strung fly rods, Gary Burwell gave 
some basic casting and fishing instruction. 

and the three men practiced casting for a bit 
before stepping quietly into the water. Initial- 
ly the three took turns, and Fleming joined 
them in the stream for some on-camera ban- 
ter. After all the filming was done, the gents 
were left to fish for a while on their own. 

Everyone had a great time and all caught 
a fair number of fine trout before it was time 
to saddle up and head back to Winchester. 
Curtis, Steve, and Russ, however, would not 
leave just yet, because there was another story 
in the making just a half-mile upstream. 

A DGIF team was shooting a video spot 
featuring Lt. Governor Bill Boiling catching 
trout in the Rose. The TV spot would pro- 
mote Virginia's fine trout fishing and encour- 
age people to visit and take advantage of our 
fine outdoor recreation opportunities. 

APRIL 201 1 ♦ 25 

Once the work was done, Curtis, Dou- 
glas, and Steve waded in and talked on camera 
with Boiling about his love of fishing. It seems 
that both Boiling and Fleming originally are 
from West Virginia coal country and setded in 
Virginia after college to make their careers. 
After more good-natured conversation, Gary 
Burwell stepped in to assist the lieutenant gov- 
ernor in finding fish. The others returned to 
shore and allowed Boiling a little quiet, fish- 
catching time in the stream — something he 
just can't seem to get enough of these days. 

The P60pl6 

The Harley-Davidson crew joins the filming crew and Douglas Dear at Rose River Farm. 


Curtis Fleming was born and raised in coal 
mining country in central West Virginia, 
where his father worked in the mines and in- 
troduced him early to the outdoors. After col- 
lege, he spent over 1 5 years in education and 
worked with troubled youth. Twice a year he 
took six students on a fly-fishing adventure 
back to his home grounds near Beverly, West 
Virginia. The students qualified for this much 
sought-after excursion by writing the best es- 
says on subjects selected by their teacher. 

Fleming left education to serve as presi- 
dent and CEO ofa gas and oil company. Here 
he learned that good business practices are 
about the people you work with, both inside 
and outside the company. And he kept his 
hand in fly fishing, camping, and hunting, all 
the while dreaming about someday doing a 
television show on the outdoors. 

His time would come when he and Steve 
Hasty were introduced by a mutual friend, 
and the two set out to do FRC for the Sports- 
man Channel. Now, after five years, the pro- 
gram has garnered a number of significant 
broadcasting awards, including the Best Fish- 
ing Episode prize from the Sportsman Chan- 
nel for a show on Project Healing Waters Fly 
Fishing; the Best Broadcast by West Virginias 
Division of Tourism; and the Best Fishing 
Show and Best Humor awards from The 
Bugle Association. And this just recendy an- 
nounced: Fleming won the Sportsman Chan- 
nel's coveted Best Show Host for 2010 award. 

Producer and videographer Steve Hasty, 
of Burke, is a native Virginian and a lifelong 
angler. He caught his first fish, a bluegill, with 
a stick he cut, a piece of old fishing line, and a 

Lt. Governor Bill Boiling fly fishes for trout 
at Rose River Farm as Curtis Fleming and 
Douglas Dear interview him about his love 
of angling. 


baited hook. Hasty does much of the post- 
production work in addition to his work on 
camera, where he is a master of capmring the 

It's always better to have two or more 
cameras working a shoot, and Fleming and 
Hasty can call on some of the area's best when 
needed. Wade Shambaugh, a deputy sherifi^in 
Morgan County, West Virginia, has hunted 
and fished all his life. He's been an avid out- 
door photographer for over 25 years and took 
up videography to work with Curtis and 
Steve. Gene Lewis, from Cross Junction, han- 
dles a camera when called and spends as much 
time as he can hunting, fishing, skiing, trail 
biking, and "whatever else has to do with the 
outdoors." James Montgomery (no relation 
to the author) is a cameraman ;tnd assistant 
producer. An avowed outdoors addict, he also 
has "a passion for filming and turning it into 
artwork." He lived in Nashville for four years, 
where he produced music and wrote songs. 
He is an accomplished guitarist. 

Curtis Fleming and The Crew (as they 
call themselves) are very proud of Fly Rod 
Chronicles. One of the best compliments 
they've ever received came from a viewer who 
said: "After we watch your show, we feel like 
we were right there on the stream with you." 
High praise, indeed. 

As for Fleming: "You ask me if I'm living 
the dream. My office is out there in the 
stream, it could be anywhere. I'm doing what 
I love. " (*• 

King Montgomery is a freelance outdoors/travel 
ivriter and photographer from Btirke and a firqtient 
contributor to Virginia Wildlife. Contact him at 
kingangkrl @aol com. 


Fly Rod Chronicks with Curtis Fleming,, (540) 550-5151 

Sportsman Channel, 



tdk Htrttr 

National Parks: The American 
Experience, 4''' Edition 

by Alfred Runte 

20 1 Taylor Trade Publishing 



Distributed by National Book Network 


"Beginning in the middle of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, a small group of visionaries and idealists 
pioneered a unique experiment in landscape 
democracy — the national park idea". 

"To be sure, the national park idea as we know it 
did not emerge in finished form. More accurate- 
ly, it evolved. The debate remains: What should 
the nation preserve — and how?" 

-Alfred Runte 

This is the fourth edition of Alfred Runte's 
survey of the history of our national parks sys- 
tem, how it evolved, and how perceptions 
about natural wonders and the utilization of 
wild spaces continue to evolve over time. For 
readers familiar with the excellent slate of 
documentaries on public television, Alfred 
Runte was a major advisor to Ken Burns dur- 
ing the development of his documentary 
"National Parks: America's Best Idea." 

Runte's prose appeals to the visually in- 
clined and, as I was reading, I was continually 
reminded of the many interpretive natural 
history displays, dioramas, and Viewmaster® 
disks that engaged my young imagination as I 
began to discover the riches of our natural 
world. During the 1 960s, as my family tra- 
versed portions of the Blue Ridge and Smoky 
Mountains during our summer vacations, I 

always felt a little thrill as I viewed the iconic 
arrowhead-shaped tablets of the National 
Park System through the windows of our 
green Ford Falcon. They signaled that some 
adventure or exciting vista was just around 
the corner. 

But our national parks, with their dra- 
matic landscapes and preserved natural areas 
are products of a seemingly endless dialog 
among shifi:ing and competing interests, and 
this topic forms the core of Runte's research. 
From the noble instincts of Thomas Jeffer- 
son, John Muir, and Teddy Roosevelt, to the 
baser tactics of ignoble Regan-era Interior 
Secretary James Watt, it is always a push-pull 
between aesthetic, scientific and environ- 
mental concerns, and the forces of the mar- 

Runte points out that, over history, nat- 
ural wonders such as Yosemite were selected 
and set apart as hallmarks of national pride, a 
way to gain scenic 'bragging rights' and be 
able to compete with, say, the Swiss Alps. At 
other times, what defined the need to pre- 
serve natural areas expanded into thinking 
about green spaces within urban environ- 
ments. It is especially interesting to see how 
foreign travelers and journalists viewed 
American attempts at domesticating wild 
wonders like Niagara Falls for the sake of 
tourism. Even in the 1800s, American and 
foreign journalists and artists repeated the 
now all-too-familiar phrase: "You must come 
and see some of these areas now. . . before 
they are completely spoiled. " Were bragging 
rights the point, or was nature itself the 
greater national heritage? 

The history of the impact of public ac- 
cess is also covered; Runte takes us from hors- 
es, to trains, and to the modern quesdons of 
snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. Should 
access always be easy, or is it important for at 
least a majority of visitors to make some more 
strenuous personal effort to enjoy nature's 

Given the ever-changing and often con- 
tentious national dialog about conservation 
issues, it is important to read this volume be- 
fore taking sides. This book is necessary and 
enjoyable homework. 




2010 Limited Edition 
Virginia Wildlife 
Collector's Knife 

Our 2010 Collector's Knife has been 
customized by Buck Knives and features a 
bobwhite quail in flight. The elegant, solid 
cherry box features a field scene. Knives and 
boxes, made in USA. 

ltem#VW-410 $90.00 (plus $7.25 S&H) 

2009 Limited Edition 
Virginia Wildlife 
Collector's Knife 

Our 2009 Collector's Knife (customized by Buck 
Knives) features a wild turkey in full strut. The 
elegant, solid cherry box features a forest 
scene. Knives and boxes, made in USA. 


$85.00 (plus $7.25 S&H) 

To Order visit the Department's website 

at: www.hluntFishVA.con"! 

or call (804)367-2569. 

Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 

APRIL 201 1 ♦ 27 

Seedlings of Learning 
Grow with Dominions 

Project Plant It! 

As the home and habitat for much ot Vir- 
ginia's wildHfe, trees are essential to the 
ecosystem while also beautifying the com- 
monwealth. For five years, Dominion's 
Project Plant It! program has educated 
schoolchildren about the important role of 
trees in the environment and more than 
100,000 students have received tree 
seedlings to plant on Arbor Day. Experts 
from the Virginia Department of Forestry 
estimate that 250 acres of new forestland 
would be created if all 100,000 of those 
seedlings are planted. 

The Project Plant It! kit for teachers in 
participating school systems includes lesson 
plans aligned with Virginia SOLs tor third- 
grade core curriculum subjects. An interac- 
tive website,, 
contains videos, games and fiin family ac- 
tivities. Lesson plans can be downloaded 
from the website and teachers can order free 
tree seedlings for their classrooms. 

201 1 Virginia Hunter 
Education Challenge 

The annual Hunter Education Challenge 
will take place at the Holiday Lake 4-H 
Center in Appomattox, April 29 through 
May 1. Contact David Dodson at for more 





3 — New Moon / Black Bears Emerging 

from Dens 
1 5 — Plant Sunflowers for Doves 
1 7 - Full Moon 

21 - Shad, Herring, White Perch Fishing Peaks 
27 - First Bluebird Broods Fledge 


3 — New Moon 
12- Quail Nesting 

16 — Shorebirds Nesting, Eastern Shore 

17 - Full Moon 

27 - Spot, Croaker Fishing Picks Up 


1 - New Moon 1 5 - Full Moon 

3 - White-tailed Fawns Born, Turkeys Hatching 2 1 - Summer Solstice 
3-5 - Free Fishing Days 22 - Bullfrogs, Green Frogs Calling 


A competitor at the 2010 challenge pre- 
pares to take aim during the rifle event. 

Every spring, a riot of colors and sounds 
emerge that can leave a casual bystander 
feeling almost dizzy. In Virginia, many 
wildlife species are going about the business 
of mating. Perhaps the most dramatic but 
rarely witnessed courtship display occurs 
above our heads, in mid-air, when bald eagle 
pairs clasp talons and somersault while 
plummeting hundreds of feet. Other 
animals are focused on parenting their 
young: from black bears and foxes to 
salamanders and songbirds. From my perch 
northeast of Richmond, I take great delight 
in the feeding and protective behaviors of a 
pair of bluebirds raising their chicks. 

After an extended period of hiber- 
nation, several species of snake are on the 
move, looking for a mate. Swamps and 
moist woodland areas and stream edges 
come alive with the sounds of frogs 
breeding — the green tree frog, the 
American bullfrog, and the upland chorus 
frog, among others. And by late May, 
species such as the Eastern box turtle and 
Eastern painted turtle will begin nesting. 

Spring also can bring violent bouts of 
weather — rains, in particular — that sweep a 
torrent of surface water into area rivers, 
causing them to swell beyond their banks. 

Fishing is good when things settle down, 
especially in tidal reaches where anadromous 
fish like shad and striped bass are making 
their journey up and down rivers to spawn. 
On inland lakes and reservoirs, this time of 
year can bring smiles to anglers casting for 
crappie or smallmouths or bluegills. 
Jumpstarting all of this activity, of course, is 
the perennial hatch of mayflies and other 
aquatic species favored by fish. 

Meanwhile, hunters of the rwo-legged 
variety are taking a break; many are working 
on their honey-do lists until April 9, when 
spring gobbler season begins. Early spring is 
a great time to spend in the woods and 
meadows, before thick undergrowth and 
thorny vines take over and before pesky 
mosquitoes and other insects return. Look 
for animal sign on tree bark and among leaf 
litter, as well as native wildflowers like pink 
lady's slipper and toothwort that bloom only 
during a narrow window of time. 

Wherever your trail may end, be sure to 
take your trash, your shell casings, and your 
old fishing line and bait containers with you. 
As always, the best way to show your 
appreciation to the animal world is to leave 
no trace of vour presence in it. 




Nation's River 
Bass Tournament 

by King Montgomery 

It was easy to spot the kids fishing in the 2010 
Nation's River Bass Tournament on the tidal 
Potomac River on May 26 — they all were 
wearing bright international orange life vests 
provided by the Boat Owners Association of 
the United States (BoatUS). The children's 
fishing lines reflected the bright sun as bass 
lures were cast to the Virginia, DC, and 
Maryland shorelines; and the sun also glinted 
off of a lot of teeth because the kids usually 
were grinning from ear to ear. 

Twenty pre-teens fished for Potomac 
iargemouth bass from 20 colorftil and sleek 
bass boats skippered by volunteer gtiides. A 
guest angler, a representative of one of the 
event's sponsors, also fished and assisted the 
young anglers. The DGIF was a sponsor, and 
director of fisheries Gary Martel was on hand 
in one boat with a guide and young fisher 
who managed to catch a lot of nice fish, but 
not the big one. 

The tournament, held out of National 
Harbor in Prince Georges County, MD, just 
across the river from Alexandria, was organ- 
ized as a fundraiser by Living Classrooms of 
the National Capital Region comprising Vir- 
ginia, Maryland, and the District of Colum- 
bia. Through their schools, hundreds of 
youngsters wrote essays on outdoors topics, 
and the top 20 winners were selected to ride 
the bass boats and fish the tournament. Anci 

over 200 additional children were bussed 
in — remember this was a school day — to 
take educational boat rides, to participate in 
hands-on educational exhibits, to witness the 
tournament weigh-in, and to have a nice 
lunch at the end of the long pier at the scenic 
National Harbor. 

Living Classrooms Foundation, found- 
ed as a non-profit organization in 1985, op- 
erates "for the benefit of the community, 
providing hands-on education and job skills 
training for students from diverse back- 
grounds, with a special emphasis on serving 
at-risk youth." The program hopes to inspire 
young folks using urban, natural, and mari- 
time resources as "living classrooms, " and 
each year works with over 1 8,000 youth and 
young adults in the region. 

Sponsors for the tournament included 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS), Virginia Department of Game 
and Inland Fisheries, Maryland Depart- 
ment of Natural Resources, Washington 
DC Department of the Environment, Na- 
tional Harbor/The Peterson Companies, 
PEPCO, Mirant Mid-Adantic, FLW Out- 
doors, Gaylord National Resort & Conven- 
tion Center on the Potomac, BoatUS, 
American Sportfishing Association, and the 
Interstate Commission on the Potomac. 

In 2009, a USFWS study found that 
children spend over six hours a day watching 
television or using various electronic devices. 
They aren't spending any time outside play- 
ing, and certainly are not taking advantage of 
all the outdoors has to offer. This widespread 
"nature deficit disorder syndrome" in our 
youth does not bode well for the future of the 
natural resources we all love. The Nations 
River Bass Tournament is an event that sup- 
ports the "Let's Move Outside" initiative 
launched by First Lady Michelle Obama. 
The idea is to connect youth to their natural 
surroundings through a combination of edu- 
cational, physical, and recreational activities. 
And Living Classrooms is doing just that. 

For more information on Living Class- 
rooms of the National Capital Region see For informa- 
tion about the 2011 bass tournament on 
June 3"^, contact Mari Lou Livingood at 
(202) 488-0627. 


Congratulations go to Jack Johnston of 
Williamsburg for his beautiful close-up of 
spores forming on the underside of an 
emerging Cinnamon Fern leaf pho- 
tographed last April in his backyard along 
the shore of Lake Pasbehegh in James 
City County. Canon EOS 40D digital SLR 
camera, Canon EOS 180mm f/3.5L macro 
lens, ISO 400, l/90th, f/9.5, flash added. 

You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best photographs to "Image of the Month," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super 
high-quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or 
raw files on a disk and include a self-ad- 
dressed, stamped envelope or other ship- 
ping method for return. Also, please include 
any pertinent information regarding how 
and where you captured the image and what 
camera and settings you used, along with 
your phone number. We look forward to see- 
ing and sharing your work with our readers. 

APRIL 201 1 



on the 

Edge of 




■ was on my way back from Tang- 

■ ier, having spent the better part 
J^m of the day dredging oysters for a 

piece in this mag;tzine. It was a Friday and 
unseasonably warm tor the first week of 
October. I drove with the windows down. 
I could still taste the salt air and had that 
lingering sense of peace that comes easy 
after a day on the water, even a day spent 
helping dredge oysters. In a week the 
short duck season would open, which I 
mark as the beginning ol fall and time to 
grow the winter beard my wife hates so 

Just one ol the many things I love 
about Tangier is the lack ot cell service. 
Not only can you not receive or make a 
call there, the island has a way of eating all 
your battery power — even if you cut your 
phone off. It feels like the island itself is 
making a last stand for a dying way of life. 
Still, I couldn't help plugging my phone 
back in for the ride home and waited for 
enough charge to turn it back on. When I 
did, it started bouncing and buzzing on 
the seat next to me. 

Three missed calls from the same 
person, who isn't your wife, is not a good 
sign. Even if it is your wife, it's not a good 
sign, but doesn't necessarily signify any- 
thing of dire importance. Three calls 
from a guy in the same hour, with 
just a single message saying, "Call me 
when you get this," made me nervous. 

Scrolling through my directory to 
find Joe's number, I still didn't think too 
much of it. He probably wanted to get the 
kids together or grab a bite to eat. The 
phone rang and quickly he picked up. 
"Lenny's got cancer," he said. 

When I hung up the phone, it was 
clear the world had changed. Gone was 
the unseasonably warm weather, the good 
feeling of rolling down the road with the 
windows down on a Friday afternoon, the 
diought of early duck season, the linger- 
ing feeling of contentment from a day on 
the water. All of it was gone. The world 
had quickly turned cold, gray, shadowy, 
and as uncertain as it had been in a while. 

I have to be honest, my thoughts 
turned to the worst. Lymphoma. It cer- 
tainly did not sound good. One of my 
brother's best friends had recently died of 

leukemia in his early 30s. He was a guy I 
had spent several weeks with in Nebraska 
just a few years prior, chasing wild pheas- 
ants over miles of knee-deep grass. As it 
turned out, that had been one of his last 
hunting trips. 

There are friends, and then there are 
friends you hunt with. There is a differ- 
ence. There is a distinct bond formed over 
sunrises, setting decoys, and seeing a pair 
of mallards lock into your spread. I could 
not help but wonder if Lenny and I would 
share another morning in the duck blind. 

Over the course of the next week, I 
learned more about Lenny's prognosis. 
Fortunately it was good. His cancer was 
treatable. Remarkably, after two rounds 
of chemo, Lenny and I sat in a swamp on 
opening day of duck season. I could tell 
he felt miserable, but he didn't once com- 

We hunted a few more times during 
the season when he felt up to it. The 
chemo gradually took its toll. By the mid- 
dle of the season he had lost his hair and 
was tired most of the time. Still, both of us 
wanted to get out there. 

There is an old saying, "Live each day 
like it's your last. " With that comes a 
heightened appreciation of the moment, 
but also a sadness and uncertainty that is 
hard to shake. That's how most of the 
duck season went last year. 

Just a few days before Christmas, I 
was at my parents' house when my phone 
buzzed in my pocket. " 100 percent cancer 
free. " That's all the text read. That was all it 
needed to read. I had to leave the room to 
collect myself before returning to share 
the good news. A few weeks later I was 
back at Tangier with a group I go with 
each year. Lenny and I shared a blind the 
first day, stared out over the bay, searched 
the sky for ducks, and laughed good free 
laughs, without the burden of uncertain- 
ty. The easy sense of peace that accompa- 
nies a day on the water was back, but no 
hunt together would ever be quite the 

Te'c CLirkson is Ml English teacher dt Deep Run 
High School in Henrico Cm. and runs Virginia 
Fishing Adventures, a fishing camp for kids: 

It was spring and the members of the 
Lonesome Dove Hunt Club & Literary 
Society had their minds on what every male 
had his mind on. . . love. . . Puppy Love, that is. 
Each member had been combing the classi- 
fieds and Internet for retriever, pointer, setter, 
spaniel, or hound puppies. Hope springs eter- 
nal in a dog man's chest, and each man hopes 
that the next pup will be the scion of the 
fields, a dream to shoot over and, more im- 
portantly, a dog he can brag on. 

There wasn't a puppy-laden count}' in 
Virginia which the members had not either 
visited personally to look at different litters or 
at least made inquiries. Doc Morrissette had 
been searching for Brittany pups as far as the 
Eastern Shore, and Reverend Wray had heard 
of promising litters of setter puppies in 
Southampton, Brunswick, and Fluvanna 
counties. R.B. had headed to Cumberland 
and Amherst looking for blue ticks and black 
and tan hounds. Mr. Debit, the club's ac- 
countant, got wind of a fine litter of Boykin 
pups down in Halifax and another just west of 
Roanoke. He was eager to try out one of those 
little, high-energy, flushing dogs for turkey 

So, the Lonesome Dove Hunt Club & 
Literary Society decided to meet one Saturday 
morning to discuss their potential puppy pur- 
chases at the Busted Barrel Skeet Range — giv- 
ing their wives a break from being away from 
home most of the week. The members 
thought that if "Absence makes the heart 
grow fonder. . ., " then consistently being out 
of the house and away from home would only 
improve their marriages. 

Spread out on the table in the meeting 
room were the pedigrees of the puppies under 
consideration. Because each member thought 
that the other members looked to them for 
advice on anything from the right lure for 

catching fish, the best shotgun for grouse 
hunting, or the proper ballistics for anything 
from teal to turkey, he was more than willing 
to express his opinion on each dog's pedigree. 
It wasn't long before the conversation deterio- 
rated into a heated argument as to which was 
better: redbones vs. black and tans, beagles vs. 
bassets, flushing dogs vs. pointers and setters. 

"Give me a flushing dog that will retrieve 
what I shoot," declared Mr. Debit. "I don't 
want to have to pray that I will find that bird 
on my own." This was a clever jab at the rev- 
erend, who was passionate about setters. 

"You looked like you got a lot of religion, 
all of a sudden, when that spaniel flushed that 
covey of quail that exploded right under your 
nose," retorted the minister. "The whole 
county heard you screamin' to be saved when 
you thought Satan had opened the door to 
bring you home! I like a dog that gives me 
some kind of warning!' 

"You two dandies need to come along 
hunting with me if you want to see how a real 
dog hunts," interrupted R.B. "A coon hound 
has to have an excellent nose — and brains to 

match — when hunting in a swamp at night. 
There is nothing like a good hound singing in 
the night while chasing a coon. Now that is 

"Give me a quiet little partner like a 
Boykin for turkey hunting," countered Mr. 
Debit. "I want an enthusiastic, efficient little 
hunter that doesn't take up a lot of room and 
does not cost an arm and a leg to feed." 

Meanwhile, Of Jones just sat, watching 
the dog debate, and said nothing — which was 
pretty unusual for him. Finally he spoke up. 
"Gentlemen, I applaud your due diligence 
and research relative to the aforementioned 
puppy acquisitions. However, I believe you 
may have put the proverbial 'cart before the 
horse'. One of the reasons we all like dogs is 
that they are a social animal that requires little 
from us as a life partner. Dogs mainly want to 
be treated kindly, fed regularly, and shown a 
bit of affection now and then. We men, how- 
ever, are attracted to another social animal 
that requires a great deal more attention, 
and — in light of our absence of late from the 
den, so to speak — I would ask if any of these 
additions to the household have been run by 
the r^^// decision makers?" 

There was a quiet pause. Then, hurriedly, 
the members excused themselves after realiz- 
ing that there were flowers to buy, long over- 
due home repairs that needed attention, 
gardens to weed, and dinner reservations to 

Keep a leg up, 

Luke is a black Labrador retriever who spends his 
spare time hunting up good stories with best friend 
Clarke C. Jones. You can contact Luke and Clarke 

.AwAuy3>v« =« rn^^^ 

''Or\e!s a worm, one's a minnow and one is a cricket." 

APRIL 2011 ♦ 31 

Photo Tips 

Lynda Richardson 

Before I Hit the Shutter I Should Ask Myself. . . 

I have been teaching lots of workshops 
these days and have discovered some- 
thing. Participants using a digital SLR camera 
really want a guide to remind them of what 
they need to think about before taking a pho- 
tograph. After much thought, I came up with 
a list that I would like to share with my readers. 
I hope this will help you! Happy Shooting. 

Lynda's List of Things to Remember 
Before You Hit the Shutter: 

1. Do I have spare memory cards and bat- 
teries with me.'' For my flash too? 

2. Is my memory card re-formatted and 
ready for shooting? 

3. Am I set up to shoot in the File Format 

I want? (RAW or JPEG?) 

4. What White Balance should I set for 
the file format I've selected and/or the 

5. What Metering Mode should 1 have 
for what I'm getting ready to shoot? 

6. What Drive Mode should I pick for 

7. What ISO should I choose? Will it be 
too grainy for the shot? 

8. What Shooting Mode should 1 use: 
Manual, Aperture, or Shutter Priority? 

9. If I'm using Aperture Priority, how 

much do 1 want in focus in front of and 
behind my subject? Which aperture 
should I use to get the Depth-of-Field 
I want? 

10. For moving subjects, do I want to stop 
action, pan the shot and blur the back- 
ground, or blur the subject? What 

shutter speed should I choose in Shut- 
ter Priority (or Manual) to do this? 

11. Do I need to use a Tripod or can I 

hand-hold the shot? Will IS or VR 
help or not? 

12. What type of light will I be shooting 
imder: harsh or soft? Where is it com- 
ing from: front, side, or back? Can I 
move to improve the light? Should I 
come back later or wait for different 
light conditions for shooting? 

13. What does the in-camera Light Meter 
indicate I need to do to make a proper 

14. Will I be able to hold detail in the 
shadows and highlights with the expo- 
sure I chose? 

15. Should I change the shutter speed, 
aperture, or ISO to achieve a better ex- 

16. Did I remember that for white sub- 
jects I need to open up a stop or two 
and for black/dark subjects I need to 
close down a stop or two? I can do this 
by adjtisting ISO, the shutter or aper- 
ture, or the exposure compensation. 

17. Do I want to Bracket my shots? If so, 
how should 1 do this? 

18. Should 1 tise a Flash to add light to the 
situation? How about a reflector? 

19. Ani I focused on the Focal Point of 

my photograph? 

20. Is my subject out of the center of the 
frame? Is it looking into or out of the 

21. For my composition should I use the 
Rule-of-Thirds or not? 

22. Is there anything I can use like tree 
branches or grass to frame my subject? 

23. Are there any distracting elements in 
the foreground or background? Can 1 
get rid of them? 

24. Is my horizon line straight and out of 
the center? (Don't forget the '/3-% rule 
for landscapes.) 

25. Is this the best angle for this photo- 
graph or should I try another? 

26. Is my image in focus and as sharp as it 
can be? What can I do to make it 

27. Where did I leave my lens cap? 

Getting into the habit of bringing backup 
memory cards and camera and flash batteries 
is always a good idea. I also make sure to bring 
extra quick release plates for my tripod and 
the camera and flash manuals! 
© 2011 Lynda Richardson 


n the \A/at6r 

By Tom Guess 

Big Shoes to Fill 

I would be remiss if I didn't start the 
boating season ofFby paying tribute to 
Charlie Sledd for his work on your behalf 
as the Boating Law Administrator (BLA) 
for Virginia. Charlie held this position for 
the past ten years. He retired on February 
1 after serving the commonwealth for over 
36 years — leaving some big shoes to fill. 
Thank you, Charlie! 

The BLA is responsible for the admin- 
istration of the recreational boating safety 
program and represents Virginia on a 
state, regional, and national basis to ensure 
our participation and collaboration on 
boating safety laws, issues, and policies 
being addressed across the U.S. The BLA 
acts as a liaison to the U. S. Coast Guard 
regarding management of Recreational 
Boating Safety programs and federal boat- 
ing safety grant funds. As such, he is the 
principal contact for interaction with the 
U.S. Coast Guard, the U. S. Coast Guard 

Auxiliary, the U. S. Power Squadrons, and 
a host of other organizations and boating 
partners on your behalf Most importandy, 
the BLA is the representative for boating at 
the National Association of State Boating 
Law Administrators ( 
That organization approves and standard- 
izes boating safety courses nationally, and 
serves as the primary resource for boating 
safety information and analysis for the Ex- 
ecutive Director of this Department, the 
Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, the 
Office of the Attorney General, the Vir- 
ginia General Assembly/Legislative Servic- 
es, and the Secretary of Natural Resources. 

On November 1 , 20 1 I assumed the 
duties ol the Boating Law Administrator 
for Virginia and wanted to take this oppor- 
tunity to let you know a little bit more 
about me. I came to the Department in 
2008 after retiring from a 21 -year career 
with the U.S. Coast Guard. My last assign- 
ment was as the Officer In Charge of Sta- 
tion Milford Haven in Mathews County. 
While in the Coast Guard, I spent the ma- 
jority of my career working in maritime 
law enforcement and search and rescue op- 
erations on the water in a variety of loca- 
tions: Virginia, North Carolina, and 
Alaska. I hold a 1 00 Ton Master's License 
(Captain's License) with a commercial 
towing endorsement. 

As you may know, Virginia is entering 
its third year of phasing in our education 
compliance requirement. This law requires 
ail operators of PWC and motorboats with 
motors of 10 hp or greater to eventually 

complete a boating safety course that is ac- 
cepted by the Department. This July 1 all 
operators of Personal Watercraft (jet ski) 
50 years of age or younger and all opera- 
tors of motor boats with motors of 10 hp 
or greater must meet that requirement as 
well as carry their certificate or card on- 
board when operating such watercraft:. 
This safety course can be found on our 
website at: 

Don't hesitate to contact me if I can be 
of service at I 
look forward to serving you in my new ca- 
pacity. Until next time: Be Responsible, Be 
Safe, and Have Fun! 

Tom Guess, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), serves as the 

state boating law administrator at the DGIF. 

APRIL 20n ♦ 33 



By Ken and Mono Perrotte 

Moose Noses and Road Kill - Must be April 

Moose Nose Soup 

2 tablespoons butter 

3 leeks, cleaned and chopped 
Vi large onion, chopped 

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1 Vz-Z inch cubes 

(we like to use russets) 
1 Vi cups chicken stock or broth (low salt) 
1 Vi cups water 
Vi teaspoon dried tarragon 

V4 to Vi pound moose noses, crumbled, or sliced and cubed 
V2 teaspoon crushed black pepper/Salt to taste 

3 tablespoons whole milk 

Prepare leeks by removing the dark green upper parts and cut off the 
root. Slice the leek several times vertically from the tips to almost the 
bottom. Spread the strips, washing under tepid running water. 
Shake off excess water and chop. Chop the onion. Melt butter over 
medium heat. When butter foams, add leeks and onion. Reduce 
heat to low and slowly cook vegetables until soft (about 1 min.). 
Add water, broth, tarragon, and potatoes. Turn up heat and bring to 
a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer about 10 or 12 min., until po- 
tatoes are soft. Mash the potatoes in the soup with a hand masher. 
Add cooked moose noses, pepper, milk, and salt. Let sit for 10 to 1 5 
min. before serving to allow moose noses to flavor the soup. 
Makes 4-5 servings. 

If you don't like the slightly lumpy texture, or want to save about 
10 min., instant mashed potatoes can be used to thicken the soup. 
Follow directions but omit the "real" potatoes. Simmer for just 2 to 
3 min. and then add about Vi cup of instant mashed potato flakes. 
Continue recipe as above. 

Note: The recommended substitute for moose noses is venison 
sausage. We like to use a mbc of smoked and Italian, or breakfast. 

Road-kilt Raccoon RoU-ups 

Vi pound ol raccoon loins, cleaned 

and skinned 
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 

1 teaspoon minced ginger 
3 cups shredded cabbage 

(about Vi head) 
V3 cup shredded carrots 
'/i cup finely chopped mushrooms 

2 tablespoons good quality soy 

1 2 egg roll wrappers 
Vegetable oil for frying 
Hoisin sauce 
Sesame seeds (optional) 

Heat 1 tablespoon ol olive oil in large pan over medium heat. C '00k 
the coon meat, turning to brown both sides until medium, about 5 

to 8 min., depending on size. Remove meat and let cool; dice 
into V4 inch pieces, ending up with 1 to 1 V2 cups. 

Meanwhile, wipe out pan and add remaining 2 tbsp. olive 
oil. Heat over low heat and add the ginger. Let ginger cook for 2 
min., but don't brown. If the ginger starts to brown, turn off 
heat and let ginger sit in the oil. Then, heat over medium low 
heat and add vegetables. Saute until soft:, about 10 min., then 
add chopped raccoon and soy sauce. Cook another 2 min., stir- 
ring to mix. 

On a flat surface, lay a spring roll wrapper with point facing 
you. Moisten edges with water and put 2 tablespoons of filling 
onto bottom half Fold bottom point over, fold side points in, 
and roll up, lightly pressing to seal. Repeat with rest of the wrap- 
pers. Heat about '/2-inch of vegetable oil over medium heat. 
Cook rolls for 2 or 3 min., turning as needed, until golden 
brown. Drain on paper towels. If desired, toast sesame seeds in a 
clean pan over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking several 
times to redistribute and brown. Serve with hoisin sauce; gar- 
nish with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 1 dozen egg rolls. 

Note: Recommended substitute for raccoon loin — duck 
breasts. This is a good recipe for some of the ducks many consid- 
er marginal for roasting, such as bluebills (scaup). 

Fish Brain Tarts 

V2 teaspoon salt 

1 V2 cups all purpose Hour 

Vz cup shortening 

3 tablespoons cold water 

2 eggs, beaten lighdy 
1 cup sugar 

Vi cup melted butter 
1 V2 teaspoons lemon juice 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 cup chopped fish brains 

3 tablespoons cherry or apricot preserves 

Preheat oven to 400°. Mix salt and flour, and cut in shortening 
until pieces are V4-inch or smaller. Sprinkle cold water, a little at 
a time, and toss with a fork to mix into dough. Form dough into 
a ball and roll out on a floured surface tcess. Cut into 3-inch cir- 
cles and press into ungreased muffin cups. 

Mix eggs, sugar, butter, lemon juice, and vanilla. Stir in fish 
brains. Put a tablespoon of filling in each tart and bake at 400° 
for 1 4 to 17 min. Top should be golden and filling should ap- 
pear set. Cool and remove Irom pan. Fop each tart with a dollop 
of favorite preserves. Miikes 2 dozen tarts. 

Note: Recommended substitute for chopped fish brains — 
shredded coconut. 





Nongame Tax 
Checkoff Fund 

Celebrate the 28th Anniversary 
of Virginia's Nongame Wildlife 
Program by helping to support essen- 
tial research and management of Vir- 
ginia's native birds, fish, and nongame 

if you are due a tax refund from the 
Commonwealth of Virginia, you can 
contribute to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program by simply marking 
the appropriate place on this year's tax 
checkoff on the Virginia State Income 
Tax form. 

if you would like to make a cash 
donation directly to the Virginia 
Nongame Wildlife Program using a 
VISA or MasterCard, you can visit the 
Department's website or mail a check 
made out to: 
Virginia Nongame Program. 

Mail to: 

Virginia Nongame Program 
4010 W. Broad St. 
Richmond. VA 23230- 1 104 


that this is the year 

you can make a difference 

by helping to 

support the management 

of Virginia's wildlife. 

Virginia Lottery Photo Contest 

Congratulations to Jim Deal of Chesapeake, who took first place in the Virginia Lottery 
photo contest held this past winter. Contest submissions featured the best of Virginia's 
wildlife and participants confirmed the broad interest across the state in supporting 
our native animals. 



is in our hands, 

Turtles have been around for so long, they have seen the dinosaurs come and go. 
Unfortunately, many species of turtles may not see the end of this century. Of the 
461 known species of turtles around the world, almost half are threatened or 
endangered. The global crisis can be attributed to the loss or degradation of 
habitat, over-collecting for the pet and food trade, and impacts from invasive 
species, highway mortality, pollution, and climate change. To raise awareness 
about the global turtle crisis, 2011 has been designated the "Year of the Turtle." 

Although the Department has been actively studying and monitoring many of 
the 23 species of turtles that inhabit Virginia, we need your help in protecting local 
populations. Suggested below are ways you can help: 

• Don't take them home. Removing turtles from the wild to keep them as pets 
can seriously damage the local population. 

• Don't release pet turtles. Released pet turtles such as the non-native, red-eared 
slider can cause serious problems for native turtles. 

• Help a turtle across the road. If you can safely stop, place the turtle on the side 
of the road in which it was heading. Do not relocate it. 

• Avoid mowing fo//grass during spring and summer Every year, many turtles are 
injured or killed as a result of mowing activity. 

' Provide habitat. Box turtles often use brush piles as hibernation sites. 
Poaching ofturtles is a serious threat. Everyyear, thousands of turtles are 
illegally removed from the wild. Report suspicious activity to 1-800-237-5712. 

To learn more about the turtles of Virginia, please visit the websites below: 

« Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 
"- Virginia Herpetological Society, 

• Partners in Reptile and Amphibian Conservation, 

Magazine subscription-related calls only 1-800-710-9369 ♦ Twelve Issues tor just $12.95 
All other calls to (804) 367-1000; (804) 367-1 278 HY 

^f jI V pisWi-wg 

Generous prizes, provided by Green Top Sporting 
Goods and Shakespeare, will be awarded to I"*, 
2"'', and 3"' place winners in each age category. 

^ Children in the picture must fall into one of the 
following age categories when the picture is taken: 
1-5 or 6-10. 

^ Photos should not be more than one year old and 
must be taken in Virginia. Only one photo 
submission per child. 

^ Submit photo on photograph quality paper. No 
CD's accepted. Photos should not exceed 4" X 6". 

* Attach a piece of paper to back of photo and 
include: name, age, address, phone number, and 
fishing location. Please do not write on the back 
of the photographs. 

* Children in a boat must be wearing a lifejacket, 
properly buckled or zipped. 

^ A Contest Release Form (PDF) must be submitted 
along with the photograph. 

Go to for release form 
and complete contest details. 

^ Photos must be postmarked on or before 
June 18, 2011. 

^ Send entry to 2011 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest, 
VDGIF, PO.Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. 

* Judging will take place in July and winners will be 
posted on the DGIF website.